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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 5:31 pm 
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While sandals may have a few advantages, I would not use them if I had any choice.

The reason is simple.
One skew step, and your trail is over!
As a guide I cannot afford that, and as a guest ... man that is a bummer, not mentioning the difficulty it may cause!

Walking in the bush is not the same as walking in the street.
You often step where you cannot see, or you have to jump from one bolder to the next.
You constantly expose your feet to high risk situations.

A good pair of boots is the best.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:03 pm 
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To me sandals are great for in and around camp,walking on rocks at the seaside, but thats all.
A good pair of leather boots is indispensable in the field.
Boots have saved my ankles many times when slipping on a slope.
Try walking through thorns with a pair of sandals, especially devil thorns in the Kalahari.
Sandals that are closed at the end are better, but in sand can be a real pain to get rid of pebbles.
Sandals are also not reliable enough, for me they tend to be disposables, no matter the brand.
I have a few pairs of boots that I use daily, that have lasted for years.
However sandals come and go even though only used now and again.
With the rain we have had in the last few weeks, sandals would just be a joke in the mud.
Muddy wet boots are one thing, but muddy feet inside wet sandals is just too uncomfortable.

I also do not wear a watch.
A watch can catch the back of your hand in a fall, been there done that, no watch anymore.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 10:26 pm 
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Have a pair of hi tec sandals ..they are not strong enough and the straps break.. Ok I am rather hard on them Have a pair of Hitec boots and they are still going strong after about 10 years .( even have the original laces. I would go for the boots.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 7:44 am 
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I like sandals for wearing around camp, but I find that boots are better for trails.
I am allergic to grass and I know that it is a fairly common allergy.
Sandals do not protect enough around grassy areas.
I also find that boots, or strong shoes help with stability.
For many years I used boots without ankle guards and I found that they gave me a combination of protection and stability, but still a reasonable amount of flexibility.

Moose, I know how small you are so I am going to comment.
I found that the best option for me was a good pair of leather boots, but without the ankle guard.
Weight is a big issue if you are small and I do find the heavier boots rather cumbersome after a while.
I have very flexible ankles and need a bit of space for movement which I do not get with ankle guards.
I also found that the lack of flexibility led to plantar injuries.

The best experience I ever had was with Nike leather hiking boots.
Unfortunately they are no longer available.
I would advise you to check the weight of the shoes before buying.
Another option is to possibly look a trail running shoes.
They are likely to give a bit of everything, plus a little more stability than normal running shoes.

Are you going to be doing your course in South Africa?

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Fri Feb 04, 2011 8:01 am 
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This is great, exactly what I wanted.
Imberbe, the day trail I did in sandals was in bushveld and reasonably rough and I didn't have problems.
Mud and thorns are good points, as are pebbles (always a problem in my Salomons).

Are there any Sanparks or private guides who would give their opinion?
They obviously face all these issues and I've come across a large number of them who prefer sandals.

Moose, I also own a pair of Hi-Tec Multi-terra which are quite comfortable and not too heavy.
They've proved pretty durable, and I wear them a lot.
If you can afford them, I'd suggest taking a look at a pair of Merrels.
They come in quite a range, I've heard they're comfortable and have seen a lot of guides and support stuff (at private lodges) wearing them.

Out of interest, for years and years I used to hike in an old pair of Caterpillar leather boots.
When I went to India 3 years ago I bought the Salomons, which are the most comfortable pair of shoes I've ever worn (so comfortable I plan to buy an extra pair now to replace my current when they die in a few years' time).
As a result, I decided the Cats weren't comfortable enough and I was getting a raw deal.
That's when I bought my pair of La Sportivas, and I haven't looked back.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Sat Feb 05, 2011 8:14 am 
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Location: Numbi Gate, Kruger National Park
I agree with the idea of sticking to trailwear being proper boots.
Last year did a total of 90 walks and patrols in our area of operation in the Kruger and can assure you, walking with sandals would just not be an option.
I know of a large number of trail guides wearing sandals in private reserves but then they stick mostly to the tourist roads or very well used rhino or hippo paths.
Depending on your use (if you go off road and need to cross serious bushland area) stick to boots.
Our team use a variety of Roque, Hi-tec and even old army boots and this has saved many an ankle and bump and bruised toes and even once protected a senior member of the team from a puff adder strike.
Rather safe than sorry.
Even during sleep outs I prefer the boots walking around the overnight spot, never know when a night visitor comes around.
Used the same hi-tec boots for the past 4 years and close to 400 walks / patrols and currently in the process of replacing them.


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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 1:37 am 
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Got to agree - boots! I tried my sandels on a bushwalk here in Perth and will never do it again.

I've always preferred a good pair of leather boots and actually buy mine from Groundcover in SA and have them shipped over to me here at a helluva lot cheaper price than I can buy boots locally.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 8:42 am 
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Joshi, I am not sure that Hi-Tec make the multi-terras anymore.
My friend has a pair and swears by them.
For some unknown reason, when I tried a pair, I couldn't find a pair that suited my feet amongst the four (or six) models available.

I have given up trying to walk in Rocky and Hi-Tec sandals.
I now only use boots or multi- terrain shoes/takkies .

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 12:42 pm 
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what type of boots would you recommend for ankles that are not very strong. those with ankle guard or without ankle guard?

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 3:17 pm 
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wfg , I can only recommend good old fashioned leather boots .
The rest of the fabric / synthetic brands may be as good, but I have little experience of them besides that I can say that my 16 year old leather boots wear and look better than those fabric / synthetic types of 5 year vintage.
Besides , if you look for a boot of a recommended synthetic / fab brand, in more cases than not they are no longer available, besides at the specialty hiking shops .

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 5:38 pm 
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For me its leather boots (old and well worn) for trails and general hiking.
New boots wear for an hour each day around camp, it helps with adjustment.
Mine are lace ups, quite long with a flap that buckles over the laces, bit like old style army boots
Only wore sandals for coastal hike (many more rivers to cross).

And always buy the best boots you can, it pays in the long run.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Mon Feb 07, 2011 9:44 pm 
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Hi Tec V-lite proper hiking boots for me.
I have killed a few pairs, but it took some doing.
And they did not drop me, I just wore them to the point of replacement.
Good quality at a reasonable price.

A guide walking in sandals ... eish!

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:24 am 
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I find I sweat a lot more in the synthetics and a good dose of dubbin keeps the leather boots just as dry. I've tried a wide range over the years and always come back to leather.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Tue Feb 08, 2011 9:37 am 
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Location: Johannesburg - too far from the closest Sanpark
But if leather boots get wet inside, thats it, they take a while to dry. Goretex are waterproof but breathable, so they (should) dry out quicker.

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 Post subject: Re: Trail footwear - boots or sandals?
Unread postPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 12:52 pm 
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I'm totally on the boots side.....!
Being the city boy I am, I'm used to walk on almost any shoe except a proper boots, but for hiking purposes I'll recommend a boot over a shoe or sandal anytime!

Just my personal opinion, the ankle support is just great and although it might not feel like you need it, once you step in a ditch you'll be glad you had the ankle support...!
Was 'privileged' to snap my ankle muscles when I was 15 and it hurts more than breaking your arm (then I was 14 ) and takes longer to recover!

Furthermore, the protection from sandals/low ankle hiking shoes are limited.
On our last Olifants Backpack Trial, we had extreme difficulties with little objects coming into our shoes while walking in the longer grass / veld.
So gaiters are a MUST in my opinion, and will simply be less effective with the low profile shoes.

Donovan (trails guide) walks with sandals, because HE CAN, he does it often and is used the terrain, walking conditions etc.
But I remember him also struggling with small stones etc coming into his sandals.
I had a long thorn come RIGHT THROUGH my sole and I wore Wolverine Hiking shoes, which are proper hiking shoes IMO.

In the end, I think whatever suits you will work best, you should test it at home though!!
However blisters cannot be blamed on a shoe.
It's simply telling you that you haven't prepared enough.
Just walking around with your brand new hiking shoes is not enough to prepare for the Backpack trails.
I'd say walk around with them for a while, maybe jog with them a few times, to stretch the shoes.
However, (Donovan the guide told me this) it will be ineffective to just walk around with your shoes doing a backpack. The trick is:

1. You should actually walk around with your new shoes carrying a 15-20kg backpack on your back. This adds much more pressure on your feet, and makes your inner shoe shape quicker, which will prevent blisters.
You don't need blisters when hiking, really.

2. Get proper Valke hiking socks.
These are the best!
They seem thick, but absorb the sweat and protect your feet and if you are not a die-hard trailist are just as important as the shoes!

(3) Optional : rub your feet with spirits 3 days before, every day.
This will cause your skin to get harder and tougher, so then even low profile shoes may do the job better


Can't wait to see Sawubona limping the Mphongolo Backpack Trial in April after the 2nd day.
Poor guy is just like his rugby team: full of courage, but left his brains at home

BTW... I was one a the few guys who did not have a single blister... So guess I must have done something right. Just gotta get those gaiters!!

Will report back upon return

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